Introducing….Hero!

It is with great pleasure that we introduce to you the next release of the Flex SDK, code-named Hero. The Hero release has three main themes:

  • Multi-Screen Development: Allow developers to build applications that target the web, desktop or mobile devices using a single unified framework.
  • Spark Maturation: Polish and grow the Spark architecture by adding new Spark components and capabilities.
  • Large-Application Development: Support developers building large applications by improving fundamental Flex infrastructure pieces.

What’s even more exciting is that these three themes are being satisfied by taking advantage of new features in the next generation Flash Player and AIR runtimes. As those runtimes become publicly available, you will be able to download Hero builds and exercise in-development Hero features in order to learn and provide feedback.

Let’s dive into more detail for each of these themes.

Multi-Screen Development

We are currently building new mobile development capabilities into the Flex framework. The Hero release of Flex will enable developers to continue to create application experiences that translate well across platforms, in addition to making it easy to build applications that work well on a wide variety of mobile devices. Hero will augment a number of existing Flex components with mobile- and touch-optimized skins and functionality and will also add new components that support mobile-specific UI patterns. Developers already familiar with core Flex concepts like data binding, MXML and dynamic layout will be able to quickly leverage that knowledge into building applications that can target numerous mobile devices.

Previously, we had investigated splitting off mobile development into a separate, new branch of the Flex framework, code-named Slider. However, the rapid increases in performance on smartphone-class devices over the past year, combined with the highly optimized performance of Adobe runtimes on these devices, now make it feasible to support mobile use cases directly with the core Flex framework. This unification of both mobile- and desktop-targeted features into a single framework is one of the cornerstones of the Hero release.

You can learn much more about the mobile features targeted for the Hero release by reading the Flex and Mobile Whitepaper and the Flex and Mobile FAQ, as well as perusing Hero Mobile feature specifications on the new Hero open source site.

Spark Maturation

With the Flex 4 release, we introduced a new component and skinning architecture called Spark which allows for designers and developers to separate component logic from behavior and declaratively customize the visuals of a component. Spark has proven to be a key addition to the Flex framework, and the Hero release focuses on building more Spark-based components as well as providing new Spark capabilities to existing Flex features. Some of the new Spark components being offered in the Hero release include Spark Form, Spark Image and Spark DataGrid controls. These new Spark components not only provide parity with the previous MX versions, but also expose capabilities that allow for more modern component designs.


Large-Application Development

As people use Flex to build much more complex and mature applications, core pieces of the Flex framework must be retrofitted in order to support these efforts. The Hero release aims to improve the compilation experience (with regards to full and incremental compilation times as well as memory consumed during compilation) for large applications that make heavy use of modules or themes. Additionally, the support for linking runtime shared libraries has been enhanced to allow for smaller download size and faster startup time. You can read more information about the changes to RSL linkage by reading the Hero feature specification here.

Changes to Build Availability

More so then ever before, the Flex SDK is tied directly to the evolution of Flash Player and AIR. The Hero release is being built atop the latest, in-development (and as of yet un-released) Flash Player and AIR runtimes. Because of this tight coupling, we are unable to provide nightly builds that showcase in-development Flash Player and AIR features. Once the current in-development Flash Player and AIR runtimes are showcased in a public release, Hero nightly builds will resume. In the interim, we will release semi-regular builds that showcase Hero features not dependent on features under development in the latest Flash Player and AIR runtimes. We will be posting the first of such builds over the next coming days. These special builds will feature several of the items mentioned in the Spark Maturation and Large-Application Development themes above. Builds showcasing Hero mobile capabilities will follow in later months. Watch the Hero open source site for more information.

More Information

This is just the start of many documents outlining new features in the Hero release. Keep an eye on the Hero open source site for the sharing of whitepapers, special Hero builds, feature specifications and design documents. Additionally, we will soon be announcing our first Hero Open Iteration Meeting, where work completed in past iterations is reviewed and upcoming feature work is previewed. Also, you can find out more about AIR for Android and participate in the pre-release program by going here. We hope you are just as excited as we are with all of the new applications and workflows Hero will enable you to build!

Sincerely,
Flex SDK Product Team

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